One of the common conversations held between food safety nerds is about the predictable meme-like sharing of phrases that folks use to explain why they do risky things like eat undercooked foods or wash their poultry and other stuff. It usually goes like: ‘I’ve been doing this for a long time, with no consequence.
“I think it’s human nature to live anecdote to anecdote. If I’ve been undercooking my burger for 20 years and I’ve never gotten sick, I’m very comfortable with that. You can tell me about the risk, but I’ve never seen it realized. On the flip side, I know people who’ve lost loved ones to foodborne illness and they look at things drastically differently.”
I also got in a plug for environmental sources of pathogens, and that animals might not always be involved:
There’s also growing evidence that these pathogens can survive for a long time in soil and other environments, says Chapman, citing recent ilness outbreaks stemming from almonds, peanut butter and flour that seem to have no discernible animal sources. “Increasingly we’re opening up our minds and saying the environment might also be a pretty decent source for hosting foodborne pathogens,” he says.